Chris Bader produced a documentary on our organization, the UFOCCI (The UFO Contact Center International), for his doctoral thesis. He also had a great interest in Bigfoot and has written a book about him. Here is an extracted version of one of his articles which appeared in "Exploring Unexplained Phenomena". He is now Dr. Chris Bader and it was my pleasure to be his friend.
The County Sheriff of Skamania Country (WA) was gruff, saying that he had been on many "wild goose chases." On one occasion a hunter brought in a very unclear picture of what he said was a Bigfoot body. The sheriff sent out a 35-man search team looking for the body fearing it might be human, but never found anything.
All in all, I found varying degrees of belief, disbelief and even disdain about the Bigfoot legend. Everyone I talked to, however, was agreed in one respect.... that I must see a man named David*.
David lives in a small town a few miles away from Stevenson, Washington. I arrived at his farm early one morning in February. Cars in all states of repair were scattered about the yard. Hundreds of chickens ran about the farm, while dogs tied to posts howled. Fences which came out of nowhere and confined nothing in particular ran into the distance.
As I got out of my car, David appeared and extended his hand to greet me. He wore what I found to be his customary garb; a "safari" hat, homemade pants held together by duct tape, and a green jacket with a patch that said "Bigfoot Country." His wrinkled face was framed by a pure white beard and his skinny arms were topped by enormous, leathery hands.
David is about eighty years old, and in the time he has lived in Skamania County, he has become quite notorious for his strong belief in Bigfoot. In fact, people in town told me that he was the only person who still talked about Bigfoot. Everyone knows him; he seems to be the fabric that holds the belief together.
David seems to enjoy and encourage his reputation and asserts his role as the local "Bigfoot authority." He has brought what he claims are Bigfoot droppings and hair to the newspaper and sheriff's offices, all of which reinforce the town's opinion of him as a "Bigfoot nut."
David claims over a dozen sightings of the creature. On one occasion, he was paddling down a "river in B.C." when he saw a Bigfoot on the riverbank which he was able to observe for twenty minutes. He has seen the creatures tracks many times, and often hears its screams. David, however, has widely different opinions about Bigfoot than most "mainstream" circles.
One Bigfoot witness, quoted in Janet and Colin Bord's "Alien Animals", gave a very common description of it:
"The creature... stood fully five feet high...disproportionately broad and square at the fore shoulders, with arms of great length...The head was small compared to the rest of the creature, and appeared to be set upon its shoulders without a neck. The whole was covered with dark brown and cinnamon colored hair... (pg. 144)."
Although Bigfoot is often described as being taller than five feet, and has been reported in a variety of colors, the above is a good "average" description.
David has his own ideas about Bigfoot's physical appearance and called every single purported Bigfoot photograph that I showed him a hoax. He vehemently claims that Bigfoot only has black fur, has a severely pointed head, and never, ever smells. Other reported hair colors are either cases of mistaken identity, or Bigfoot wearing an animal skin coat, and that Bigfoot's smell may arise from the creature "passing gas."
I immediately found it interesting that David makes such wild claims. He is already separated from mainstream society because of his talk of Bigfoot, but with his "unorthodox" claims about Bigfoot's appearance, he even separates himself from mainstream Bigfoot circles where he might find acceptance. He seemed to have a need to have a personal stake in the Bigfoot phenomenon; to own it as his own.
David has a wide assortment of Bigfoot material at his farm. In his barn is a 9 1/2 foot tall, "life size" (says David) model of Bigfoot. It is covered with dark, black hair and has a triangular head. In his living room he has a large tablet filled with Bigfoot clippings and drawings.
On my second trip to visit David, I was able to look through his notebook at some length. Among the assorted articles were some of David's pastel sketches of Bigfoot, all of which had writing on them. These writings were always statements which were supposed to be from the creature itself. For example, on a drawing of Bigfoot's head are the following phrases:
"I was here first... I am real... don't pick on me little man. Throw me a fish."
David seems to reinforce his "ownership" of Bigfoot by actually attempting to step inside the creatures psyche; he thinks for Bigfoot. There are several other sketches in which David appears to be identifying with and becoming the sketch. In fact, in a local newspaper article about him, David is quoted as saying that he wears his hair long and has a beard to "identify with the creature."
At the end of a letter concerning Bigfoot, written to the Skamania Country Pioneer, David wrote the following:
"...deceiving people is not my game. I want truth and I want everyone to have it. Only the truth will make us FREE (sic)".
It was obvious to me at this point that Bigfoot was more than a mystery animal to David. He was a zealot of sorts; standing on a mountain yelling at everyone to come to the "truth"; that truth being a nine-foot tall, hairy monster.
On my third trip to visit David, I began to receive hints as to the role Bigfoot plays in his psyche.
After I arrived at his farm, David ushered me inside and immediately began talking about the environment and how people must respect it. He explained in the finest detail how to make a smokeless stove, drawing a chart and describing it's inner workings. Then came the clincher...
Bigfoot, he said, knows when campers are being ecologically aware and likes such people. He also said that Bigfoot hates guns and avoids people who carry them.
It goes without saying that, excluding the possibility of David "mind-melding" with Bigfoot, he has no way of knowing what the creature thinks about environmentally aware people. He has no way of knowing if Bigfoot is even capable of such thoughts. The creature seems to have become an outside projection of David's values. Since he "owns" Bigfoot, he can dictate its thoughts. David does not like guns; neither does Bigfoot.
I found that David's connections with Bigfoot ran even deeper, for after he finished discussing wood stoves, he began to discuss "social cycles."
According to David, humans are living in a social cycle which is ultimately self-destructive for our greed and exploitation of the environment will bring our ruin. When explaining Bigfoot's way of life, however, David spoke of a being who is closer to nature, more environmentally conscious and aware than humans; a noble savage.
The noble savage, often discussed in conjunction with Bigfoot phenomena, has been a figure in art and folk tales for many hundreds of years. Described as a man who lives in the wilds, devoid of civilization, the noble savage lives off the land and yet he does not destroy. He takes what he needs and is never greedy. Most of all, he lives in harmony with his surroundings; a commentary on our greedy, destructive society.
I saw Bigfoot as David's noble savage. David attempted to "own" the creature by describing it in his own, unorthodox way, and calling all others hoaxes. He is then able to utilize his ownership and project his fears about the downfall of civilization only a creature that may or may not be real.
I have continued to spend time with David and he is a friendly and fascinating individual. I make no judgments about the reality of his Bigfoot sightings as he was extremely sincere and I have no reasons to doubt his veracity. But, so far as David is concerned, the "real" existence of the creature is probably a moot point anyway, for it has inextricably shaped his beliefs and behavior.
*...David is not his real name.
Lyle, Washington also has Bigfoot reports. It is not far from Stevenson. As representatives of the UFOCCI we went to a farm up above Lyle where the persons who lived there saw Bigfoot quite often. Outside their house they had huge yard lights and they would see him standing there looking at their house. In fact one evening a "Mama" Bigfoot brought her child and held it up to the windows of the house so it could see in and observe "humans". We climbed up a hill where they purportedly hung out. On our way back down we heard a loud "humph" and knew we were being observed. It didn't take long to get back to the house and safety!